This article has two sections:
(1) Extended Quotes from Pastors, Christian Educators, and Sunday School Teachers about their experience teaching with software in Sunday School.
(2) A collection of quick quotes from Sunday Software customers over the years.
(1) EXTENDED QUOTES:
These quotes were originally part of an article in ALERT magazine, the Christian education mag of the PCUSA.
No other comment so typifies the reaction churches are getting to computers in Christian education as I wish there had been something like this when I was in Sunday School. “This is the one comment I hear over and over and over again in my congregation.” says Linda Beckham, D.C.E. at the Palma Ceia Church in Tampa.
“We have experienced a lot of excitement about our Bible Computer Lab among the kids and parents. Even our adults are clamoring to get a crack at some of the software. Our staff, teachers and church leaders have been very encouraged by the response and the results”.
Linda’s church isn’t the only one experiencing the warm reception and support for computers in Christian education. Diane Jones, D.C.E. at First Presbyterian Church in Circleville Ohio has also been pleasantly surprised.
“Our parents have expressed their appreciation at our willingness to risk being innovative and creative. We haven’t had one negative reaction and there is a general sense that we are moving in the right direction by modernizing our teaching methods. And of course the kids think it is very cool.”
Kitty Dobbs, Church Educator at Shepherd in the Hills in Lakewood Colorado almost literally missed the bus on teaching with computers. She attended an APCE convention only to find that the computer workshop she wanted to attend was full. A last minute open seat on the bus trip out the workshop site, however, became the “beginning of something new and exciting.”
“Frankly, our kids were shocked by the introduction of computers. Soon, so were we. They grew quite attentive, willing to learn and happy to share. Our parents were impressed by our commitment to their children’s education. Our computer lab drew a whole new group of people to help teach.”
Bill Allbright at St Croix Valley United Methodist Church in Lakeland, Minnesota sent me this terrific success story about his computer lab….
Chris is an only child and the son of a single mother who has been divorced twice. Chris was a bitter child. He’d always heard how boring Sunday School was and didn’t want to come at all. He finally agreed when he heard we had a computer lab. He didn’t want any part of Sunday School unless he could help with the computers. They sent him to me. I told him what I wanted but what he in fact did was sit at the computer and do the lesson while the first graders looked on. That was two years ago when Chris was a fifth grader. He has become very involved and is learning and growing in Christ.
One of the popular misconceptions being dispelled about computers in Christian education is that they are beyond the means of the average Sunday School. In the Dayton Ohio area, a number of small and medium size Presbyterian, Methodist and Lutheran churches are using computers in their programs and have found hardware rather easy to get. Jo Doelker’s church in Middletown Ohio was one of the first.
“At first, we requested a computer only for the church Library and the Trustees were less than enthusiastic. When we looked into using the computer in our Sunday School as well, the Trustees approved the money without hesitation.”
The Presbyterian Church in Erwin Tennessee didn’t even own a computer until recently. Pastor Tom Wade enthusiastically tells the story of the night he put some C.E. software on a borrowed computer and set it up at the church’s potluck supper.
“The kids didn’t eat. They mobbed the computer. It was like a magnet. Our Session decided at its next meeting that anything so powerfully attractive was worth exploring. A lot of our kids out here don’t have computers, but that only made the decision easier to make.“
With computer skills becoming ever more prevalent in our congregations, educators are finding help and support readily available, –even from quarters you might not expect. Carol Davis at First Presbyterian in Beavercreek Ohio began computing over a year ago in her Sunday School. A number of her Bible Computer Lab teachers come from the retirement center next door to the church! Other churches have their specially trained teachers assisted by Sr. High “Bible Lab Buddies.” Youth are eager to help with a tool they understand and enjoy using.
The new recruits not only bring their enthusiasm and technical expertise, but new teaching insights as well. Says Ron Friedman, computer techie and teacher at the Presbyterian Church in Park Ridge Illinois, “with computers we are learning to be the ‘guide by the side’ rather than the “sage on the stage.'”
Out of the Mouths of Babes
Reverend Stacy Ikard from John Knox Presbyterian Church in Florissant MO emailed me this story:
A group of people were standing in our church office at the end of Sunday School hour. One man said to another, “I just don’t understand why we are spending so much money on computers and software. This is a real waste of money. Kids don’t need these things.” A couple of us overheard him and were about ready to respond when all of the sudden an eight year old boy burst into the office. “Grandpa, Grandpa, I answered all the questions and the walls of Jericho just fell down! It was great!” The Grandpa hugged his grandson, and then turned to his disgruntled friend and said, “THIS is why we spend money on computers and software.”
Rachel at Elba UMC in Elba Alabama opened up her computer lab during Weekday Fellowship time for learning with Bible software. She had also previously told some boys in the group they could bring their Gameboys to fellowship for play time. About two weeks after they had opened up the computer lab with the Christian education software, however, they stopped bringing their Gameboys . Proof? Here’s the picture Rachel sent with the story. Notice the boy isn’t looking at the Gameboy, and nobody else had them anymore. Rachel enthusiastically wrote, “Go God!”
The Sunday School Teacher Who Didn’t Think It Would Work
Mary Lou at Union Church in Hinsdale Illinois had taught Sunday School for 20 years. She felt she was boring her Middle School students. Then she was asked to do a five-week trial run in their church’s new computer lab. Writes Mary Lou, “I was concerned they’d get bored with it or think it was nerdy…. and we’d lose interaction.” Mary Lou was not a techie either. I was wrong on BOTH counts. The five week trial has turned into a permanent Computer Bible class. The youth help each other… New people or visitors plug right in. I will never go back to Sunday School as usual. The youth arrive early and don’t want to leave. For me as a teacher, it is gratifying.”
How did they get started?
For some it was a special gift, a memorial, a budget, a church office computer, a borrowed computer, a loaner, a laptop, or used computers. For many it was an unexpected experience that changed their mind. Typically, there is a pastor, educator or lay leader with computing skills (or no fear of computers) and a passion for education. They come to this experiment with an intuition about the potential of this new teaching medium. They and their committees and boards come with a willingness to explore teaching a new generation with an exciting new tool.
This grassroots revolution in teaching technology comes at a providential time in the educational ministry of our Church. Amid a growing sense of frustration with traditional methods and curriculum comes a tool that kids (and adults) love to learn with. Computer hardware is coming within reach of the average church. Computer skills are becoming ubiquitous. Christian software suitable for Sunday School is growing in quantity and quality.
Like the disciples at Pentecost, those of us teaching with computers believe the Spirit is leading us to speak not in our own traditional language, but in a language that appeals to others, the foreigners in our midst, the children, youth and adults of the electronic age. Those locked in the past, laboring under misconceptions, or afraid of the future may say we’re drunk on technology. But like the Apostle Peter in the second chapter of Acts, we declare “its only 9 o’clock on Sunday morning! …a time for amazement and astonishment and an outpouring of the Spirit, …a time for dreams and visions.”
If you’d like to know more about teaching with computers in Sunday School contact Neil MacQueen via www.sundaysoftware.com. Neil is a Presbyterian minister and founder of Sunday School Software Ministries, a validated ministry of the Presbytery of Scioto Valley. Neil has been a seminar leader at the annual APCE conference, in Presbyteries events, and other denominational gatherings around the country.
(2) Some More Quick Quotes about Teaching with Software and Sunday Software
Hello from snowy Rochester NY. Wanted you to know that we have been running rotation since just September (3rd church I have implemented it) and everyone LOVES it! Perhaps the best room is our computer lab. Nobody misses that week! The same volunteer wants to be there every week and now she has taken over writing the lesson. I have a new best friend who serves as my computer geek. Bless you for your ministry and guidance, Donna Kaser
I’m sure you’re mailbox is full and I don’t want to clog it up more but I wanted to let you know how much ‘my kids’ in Sunday School are enjoying your products. I’m just ‘testing the waters’ with computers for Sunday School to see how the kids like it (because I was losing my 3rd and 4th graders – they were just so bored with traditional Bible stories and leaflet handouts and could tell they needed something new to hold their interest)…. Just thought you’d like to hear some positive feedback that it’s working great and the kids love it, and your newsletters make it so easy for me and are so full of great lesson ideas. Thanks for a great concept and product line! Ruth Kehoe, St. John’s Lutheran – Ridge Valley/Sellersville, PA
What’s our favorite? All of your software programs have something unique which draws the kids into the story. Which is why we keep coming back. My daughter and I have been teaching with the computers for almost 5 yrs and we both love Abraham and Sarah CD. The music and songs really helps keep the kids focused on the story. Our second favorite is Galilee Flyer. And you certainly can’t go wrong with Fluffy’s Christmas CD. Keep up the good work. Mark Perry, First Presbyterian, Spring Hill Kansas
Neil, Thank you so much for all you have done. We have continued to use Computers in our Workshop Rotation (model Sunday School). And our kids and teachers just love it still. The concept of creating and learning on the computer is golden. Prue Dana, Oxford Presbyterian Church, Oxford Ohio
Speaking on behalf of our Education Staff and volunteers – both past and current – we feel very blessed to have you and Sunday Software as resource. Your reviews, articles, lesson plans and creative ideas inspire us and help us to be better teachers and apostles. I look forward to your newsletters. There is ALWAYS something practical and transformational for me to share or incorporate. My 11 year old son was giving the “Attack of the Sunday School Zombies” a trial run last night for me last night while I explored the Illumnia software. I was cracking up just listening to the “meetings, meetings, meetings.” I think it would be a great resource for me to use for our volunteers too – sort of a fun leadership training. Attitude really makes a difference for us all. I need to play it myself next. So, a big thank you to you and your ministry! Catherine Curtis. 1st Congregational, Glen Ellyn IL
Thanks for sharing your good news. I will always turn to you for my Christian Education Software Needs. Your personal attention and great Customer Service are a winning combination that you can’t get with larger companies. Keep doing God’s Work. Susan Wagner, Bonsack UMC, Roanoke VA
Read “Why Teach with Computers?”